Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older. The disease causes a breakdown of the macula, a small area in the retina that allows you to see fine details clearly. This breakdown affects your central vision, used for such tasks as reading and driving, and may result in blurriness, dark areas or distortion.
The two most common types of AMD are “dry” and “wet.” Most people have the dry form, which is caused by aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula. Vision loss is usually gradual. A common early symptom is that straight lines appear crooked.
The wet form accounts for about 10% of all AMD cases. It results when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the retina at the back of the eye and leak fluid or blood. Vision loss may be rapid and severe. Blurred vision is a common early symptom.
There are no known ways to stop the progression of either form of macular degeneration however there are several precautionary steps that may be taken to slow the progression of the disease; protection from UV light, not smoking, and taking AREDS vitamins. These vitamins have been scientifically proven to slow the progression of moderate and severe Dry AMD.
Wet macular degeneration can be treated with the injection of drugs that block the growth of abnormal blood vessels and slow their leakages. While treatment can impede vision loss, it may not restore vision.